Not all funeral homes are ready to take the plunge into offering natural funerals to the public, others may not have the resources to offer it and some just may not know where to start. That is why we compiled ideas to help integrate green efforts into your funeral establishment or even into your home. These efforts not only help to reduce our impact on the environment, but it also offers another reason why your funeral establishment it different from the rest.
-Environmentally friendlier embalming
-Alternative preservation methods (e.g. cooling blanket, dry ice, burial cloud) Click here to learn more about alternative preservation methods
-Offer limousines to escort family and friends. Escorting many people in one vehicle prevents extra automobiles on the road thereby reduces emissions. Encouraging carpooling is another option.
-Utilization of FSC certified paper products
-Recycled paper stationary
-Caskets/shrouds with biodegradable materials (e.g. glues)
-Unvarnished/biodegradable varnished caskets
-Caskets made from sustainably sourced woods and fair-trade materials
-Offer a selection of biodegradable urns. There is now a large variety of urns which can be planted into the ground and a tree or wildflower garden grows in its place.
-Your establishment along with many other funeral homes may have affiliations with a company which specializes in floral arrangements and allows the purchasing of these arrangements through your website. Ask your floral provider if potted plants may be added to the site along with germinated tree seeds, or small shrubs to offer a greener option to friends and family who wish to purchase a gift for the family. As well, ask if your florist is able to provide organic or fair trade options.
-Locally made products (e.g. caskets, urns)
-Paper towels, toilet paper and other paper products made from recycled papers
-Biodegradable and/or non-carcinogenic cleaning products
-Eliminating aerosol type products (e.g. air fresheners) and using spray bottles instead
-Use LED light bulbs, they will cut down on your hydro bill, last longer and prevent mercury being deposited into our landfills
-Avoid plastic containers when possible, and opt for glass instead
-Recycle papers, plastics and glass accordingly. If at all possible, start a compost collection from the lunch room to use in the gardens.
-Keep your gardens green by not employing the use of harmful pesticides, insecticides or chemically-based fertilizers. Instead grow hardy plants which are native to the area, plant companion plants like marigolds or citronella to keep insects away, and use natural fertilizers like manure on your gardens.
-Let your grass grow. Let the grasses grow longer and wilder by avoiding the use of lawnmower, or use an electric-powered lawn mower instead.
-Use non-aerosol beauty products (e.g. hairspray, deodorant, cologne/perfume)
-Use natural scents. Allergies to perfumes and colognes is becoming more common. Using naturally scented products offers a less invasive scent, are not known to cause allergic reactions, and can be therapeutic by helping to relieve stress and bring a sense of calm)
-Purchase clothing which has been made locally and/or uses sustainably sourced/fair-trade materials. More stores are offering suits made in Canada, and shirts made from bamboo and/or cotton blends.
-Make the investment. Purchase clothing items that will endure your hard work. Not only will it save you money, but it will also decrease excess wastes.
-Avoid the dry cleaners. Dry cleaning it a staple to the maintenance of the funeral director’s wardrobe however has many negative impacts on the environment and possibly your health. “There’s an unnerving list of chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process. Both perchloroethylene and petroleum-based solvents are toxic and should be avoided. These chemicals remain in your clothes long after you bring them home and put them next to your skin.”(1) Not to mention, dry cleaning leaves the clothes feeling stiff and can be more damaging to your clothes over time. Alternatives to dry cleaning include handwashing in cold water or use a steam cleaner instead (essential oils can be added to eliminate odours). Otherwise, find an environmentally friendly dry cleaner who uses GreenEarth dry-cleaning processes. It is the only safe and non-toxic way to dry clean clothes. For more information regarding dry cleaning and its impact on the environment please visit the David Suzuki Foundation website’s article on How to Safely Clean “Dry Clean Only” Clothes.
-Quit idling. “Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than it would take to restart the engine.” (1) Besides, the smell of fumes is off-putting enough.
-Consistently check the tire pressure on your fleet not only for safety reasons, but also because under-inflated tires increase your cars fuel consumption and it causes premature tire wear. Checking your oil and changing it as recommended by your mechanic will help reduce your use of fuel as well.
-Offer organically grown and fair trade coffee in your lounge. Second to cotton, coffee is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crop in the world. As well, ditch the single cup coffee makers which employ an enormous amount of plastic. Do we ever only drink one cup anyway?
There are many ways to reduce our impact on the environment at home and at work. For more tips we encourage you to read Green for Life by Gillian Deacon which is available for sale here.
(1) Gillian Deacon. (2006). Green tips: How to save money and the planet. Toronto, ON: Green Living Enterprises